Concert Review: Marsha Ambrosius and Melanie Fiona

marshaThanks to her enviable resume, back-to-back hits and a Number One-selling Top R&B/Hip-Hop debut, it would be understandable if Marsha Ambrosius flexed her star power and got her diva on these days. The fact that she didn't, however, endeared her all the more to the packed audience that greeted the headliner of BET's Music Matters tour at Dallas' Palladium Showroom on Thursday night.

marshaThanks to her enviable resume, back-to-back hits and a Number One-selling Top R&B/Hip-Hop debut, it would be understandable if Marsha Ambrosius flexed her star power and got her diva on these days. The fact that she didn't, however, endeared her all the more to the packed audience that greeted the headliner of BET's Music Matters tour at Dallas' Palladium Showroom on Thursday night.

Backed by a four-piece band (three instrumentalists and a DJ), Ms. Ambrosius displayed her affinity for old and new-school hits by intertwining classics with her creations, splicing together the Art of Noise's "Moments In Love" with her Prince-inspired and free-flowing CD title track, "Late Nights & Early Mornings." Her multi-octave warbling and vocal trills were just as arresting live as they are in her recorded music, recalling an opera singer with one note and the late Teena Marie in the next. Fans remained on their feet and cheering loudly throughout her set, screaming "Do it Girl!" and "We love you Marsha!" and earning saucy winks or blown kisses in response.

Her hour-long set was decidedly ballad-heavy: she poured awe and emotion into the worshipful track, "Your melanieHands," rolled her tongue suggestively as she crooned and moaned through "With You" and playfully called out the men in the audience for the ability to make women so weak for their, ahem, talents, during the Floetry-era songs, "Getting Late" and "Say Yes." Before curling the bridge of Michael Jackson's "Human Nature" into "Butterflies" and "Far Away," the London native showed her playful hip-hop side when her DJ served up a medley of classic soul tracks for her to sing with ("Real Love," "Sweet Thing," "Before I Let Go") and even a tribute to the recently-deceased Nate Dogg, where she sang along with his famous choruses and did The Wop along with her giggling guitarist.

The opening act, Melanie Fiona, was no slouch behind herself: sultry and self-assured, Ms. Fiona proved to be a high-energy dynamo, plunging into favorites from her 2009 debut such as "Give It to Me Right," "Ay Yo," "Bang Bang," "Monday Morning" and even inspired covers of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" and "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette. Fans stood, swayed and sung along word-for-word with her Number One smash, "It Kills Me," and a lucky male fan got beckoned to the stage to be her muse for her upcoming CD's first single, "Rock Paper Scissors." If Ms. Fiona continues to display such enthusiasm and versatility in her future endeavors, becoming a contender in her own right is all but guaranteed.

By Melody Charles

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